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Reframing the mindset of ESG

Blog 08 11 21 Reframing Mindset ESGs Hero

Today Holly Brown, Head of Client Strategy in the property management team attended the Climate Action: Sustainability Innovation Forum in Glasgow which is running alongside the UN Climate Change Conference. Here she tells us what she has taken away from today’s event. 

Was there a single quote or fact that really stood out to you?

“Net zero is one of the biggest business opportunities of this decade” – Cristina Gamboa, CEO World Green Building Council.

The mindset around sustainability in business is often about taking away something such as: reducing the amount of waste we produce, cutting the amount of energy we use, removing the number of journeys we make and so on. It puts the topic into a negative mindset. However, Cristina’s quote highlighted how this can be a growth opportunity for many businesses, not only in their positive contribution to our climate but the ability to create new business lines and products, attract investment and enter new markets.

What do you think landlords should take away from today’s conference?

We heard today that “70% of the global workforce are made up of small and medium-sized enterprises” and as such, not only will SMEs make up a considerable portion of landlords’ tenant mix but also be significant contributors to their scope 3 emissions. 

Whilst many of the larger corporate occupiers may have greater capital and resource to drive their net zero commitments, it is important to appreciate that some SMEs may not have similar resources to deliver what can be seen as quite burdensome reporting.

So how can landlords support their SME occupiers in reducing their impact on the climate? It starts with creating an infrastructure in their buildings that gives occupiers visibility of their impact. This could include installing a sub-meter to measure a tenant’s direct consumption, sharing how waste and water is managed to explore opportunities to reduce it and partnering with a property manager who is offering certified green energy to reduce the tenant’s scope 2 emissions.  

We’re already doing this in Colliers’ UK Property Management team, reducing emissions at our managed assets through our “Green Basket” which offers our clients’ occupiers the opportunity to access green energy at very competitive prices. During the last 12 months our green energy usage has saved more than 16,000 tonnes CO2 emissions. 

How do you think real estate advisors should work differently because of what you’ve heard today? 

Some 40% of global emissions come from the built environment and when you consider all buildings that will be in use in 2050, 70% are already built. Therefore, the role of real estate advisors, at every stage in the asset lifecycle, is paramount in reducing our industry’s contribution to the climate crisis. 
From leasing, to capital markets and property management, it is everyone’s responsibility to understand how they should be advising their clients to reduce their carbon emissions.  

Whilst the threat of global warming should be enough to affect change, it is evident some businesses may need an additional incentive - the risk of being de-instructed. A wide number of clients (both landlord and occupiers) have made commitments to reduce their scope 3 emissions which will require their supply chain to have made, and working towards, net zero targets. 

For example, we heard today that 60% of Moody’s suppliers are to have science-based targets by 2025. This trend is set to grow and we will see many more businesses making significant scope 3 commitments - and for clarity, this will include their real estate advisors. 
At Colliers, globally we have committed to being operationally net zero by 2030. Having transparent conversations with investors and occupiers who need additional support to reduce their impact is essential. Reframing commitments towards net zero as a positive step forward, rather than a costly tick box exercise will make a significant difference to the success of protecting our environment.

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About the author

Holly Brown is Head of Client Strategy in our investment property management she works to drive business development and enhance our service offering to key clients.

To contact Holly, email

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Holly Brown

Head of Client Strategy

Investment Property Management

London - West End

Holly is a Director in the Investment Property Management (IPM) team and  Head of Client Strategy. She works with IPM and National Capital Markets to drive business development and client management and enhance our service offering for our key clients.  

Holly graduated from the University of Reading with First Class Honours in 2011 and qualified as a chartered surveyor in 2013 at niche hotel investment firm, Gerard Nolan and Partners. 

Holly joined CBRE's High Street Retail Investment team in 2014, and transitioned into their Client Care team in 2016 to develop the Retail & Institutional Investors Client Care programmes. 



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